All of us have grown up reading about Alfred Hitchcock and watching his movies. His movies remain loved by all including the new generation. Many stories and filmmakers of thriller genre movies have been inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense stories and filmmaking techniques. He is the most influential and revered celebrity in the history of Hollywood.
He is one of the film directors who has been most studied and most-read about. The latest in the list of books written about him is Alain Kerzoncuf & Charles Barr’s ‘Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films which was launched in 2015. His style of using the camera movement in a way to arouse suspense and fear amongst the viewers is called the Hitchcockian style. He is the father of suspense cinema and there is no one who could have replaced such a great personality as Alfred Hitchcock.
He is aptly named as ‘Master of Suspense’. His films gave the audience a thriller experience which was enjoyed by them and brought them back to the cinema halls for it.
His early life
Alfred had a very strict Catholic upbringing. Born in London, England on 13 August 1899 as Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, he had a lonely and isolated childhood. He was an obese child and this too contributed to his loneliness. His parents were extremely strict and disciplinarian and he once told a story where his father had packed him off to the nearest local police station with a note which stated that the police should lock Alfred up behind bars for 10 minutes as a form of punishment for his misbehavior.
His mother was no less strict. He recalls how she would make him stand at the foot end of her bed for hours as punishment.
Alfred has put in the Jesuit school St. Ignatius College and later joined the University of London for an art course.
The first job
Alfred after his graduation from the University worked as a draftsman and advertising designer for the cable company Henleys. It was during this time that Alfred began writing short stories and submitting them for in-house publication. His childhood experiences of being falsely accused and emotional conflicts greatly influenced his stores which had a lot of such twisted endings. He could write these with impressive skill.
In 1920, Alfred entered films and worked as a card designer with Famous Players-Lasky Company. He used to design title cards for silent movies. While he worked, he also looked around and gained a lot from the happenings in the surroundings. He then took up the position of assistant director.
His first direction
In 1925, he directed his first film called The Pleasure Garden. It was a commercial flop but Michael Balcon liked his style and dubbed Alfred as ‘a young man with a mastermind’. His 1929’s Blackmail was the first British talkie. His early classic films included The Man who knew too much of 1934 and The 39 Steps of 1935.
The Hollywood entry
In 1939, Alfred entered Hollywood and produced Rebecca released in 1940 which won him several coveted awards. He produced more than 50 films most of which turned classics. His career spanned over nearly 60 years and in 1979 he was honored with the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award.
His married life, wife, and daughter
Alfred married film editor and scriptwriter Alma Reville on 2 December 1926 at the Brompton Oratory, South Kensington. Their honeymoon destinations were Paris, Lake Como, and St. Moritz. They leased a flat at Cromwell Road in Kensington. Their daughter Patricia or Pat for short was born on 7 July 1928.
She is their only child. Alfred’s friend Charles Champlin had written in 1982:
“The Hitchcock touch had four hands, and two were Alma’s.”
Alfred Hitchcock had a kidney problem and died in his sleep peacefully in Bel Air, CA. Alma who was also called Lady Hitchcock died in 1982.